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Summary: Forcing himself to falsely breathe, Angel centered himself and stood tall, affecting control over the situation. "I know you're there so you might as well cut the disappearing act."

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Angel-CenteredAngelfirenzeFR181058,57444219,1782 Oct 107 Jul 14No

Blood

Illustration

New All Over
By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: Rowling and Whedon own nearly all. Radiohead. "OK Computer.". Parlophone, 1997. Taking Back Sunday. "Louder Now.". Hollywood, 2006. Yeah Yeah Yeahs. "Show Your Bones.". Interscope, Polydor Records, 2006.

Summary: Buffy carefully took Angel's wrists both in one of her hands and used the tail of her shirt to wipe the tears from his face. "I'm proud to find these things out, Angel, I wish you were proud to tell me."

"I'm - Liam's dead!" Angel roared, his voice choked with tears and more came to both Buffy and Harry's eyes, as well. "They're all dead an' it's my fault!"

Notes, first: People usually make Willow the Weasley - or, rather, Prewett - in question. Not here. Also, infinitesimal nod to Jhonen Vasquez again.

Notes, second. Just for letting everyone know, I don't plan to re-hash every single Buffy episode for this story, but there will be mentions of things per the story's timeline for orientation purposes, because to do otherwise would be boring, not to mention tedious. Also, I was re-reading Viva Las Buffy again tonight and have now had ideas. Fun.

Notes, third: Also, just for future reference, canon possibly doesn't take a large amount of the comic continuity into account like they don't the books, but Sam was not the only person Angel ever sired with a soul, though there was a magical vortex involved in the second circumstance. So I suppose there's that.

Notes, fourth: Anyway, the point is that please just assume that, in all my stories, the Viva Las Buffy through A Stake to the Heart comics have happened, even if ANGEL: After the Fall, etc. (the IDW post-ANGEL continuity, not Dark Horse, 2010, etc., of course, which never - ever - happens) happening is not always the case.

Part VII: Blood

Mum has a second cousin who's an accountant, but we don't talk about him much. - Ronald Bilius Weasley

***

Actually, it explains a lot. - Daniel Osbourne

Buffy found herself balling her fists in supreme effort to keep from throttling Harry as they walked and flew slowly through the darkness of Sunnydale with Angel's frozen form underneath Harry's stupid cloak that refused to so much as slip so she could see him or anything.

Yep, when they were getting to the mansion on Crawford Street that Harry had insisted was the best place to go as it was so roomy and isolated, she was killing him immediately...Buffy closed her eyes and fought the urge to swear. If she killed Harry, how would she get this stupid curse off Angel?

Damned logic. When all this was said and done she was going to have both Angel and Harry explain more of this magic stuff to her and how it was different from the magicks Merrick (Buffy bit her lip, then, and glanced up at the sky, wishing him peace) had briefly described to her while he was her Watcher.

She guessed that Giles did the same kind but this was different somehow and she was also going to ask him if he knew anything about it. All this junk going on around her and her not knowing anything about it was getting to her in the worst way.

...Stubborn skin thickens in attempt to understand...

They finally reached the locked gates in front of the mansion and Harry pulled out his stick again, tapping the huge locks and Buffy watched in slightly lessened surprise as they fell away and gently floated noiselessly to the ground. The gates were also somehow pushed open without a sound after Harry did something else and their procession walked quietly onto the overgrown grounds of Crawford Mansion.

It wasn't until they had repeated the 'ritual' to enter to enormous house that Harry finally exhaled and clenched his eyes shut, gently settling his broomstick next to the door as though it belonged there, as well as hanging his cloak on an ancient hook. It all looked so absurdly homey that Buffy almost smiled.

Almost.

"Alright, whatever you did, take it off Angel now," she said in her deadliest voice, but Harry didn't flinch as she expected, since that's what people usually did when she used her Slayer voice. This urked her somehow, but Buffy forced herself to let it slide.

"If you'd wait five seconds, that was what I was going to do anyway, but I need to make sure he's not going to run away the moment I do."

If anything, he was aggravated but, regardless of that fact, Harry raised his stick above his head -

"Wand," Harry said irritably, lowering it and turning to glare at her suddenly (finally), and Buffy flinched, herself, this time in abject surprise.

"W-what?"

"It's not a stick, it's a wand. As for why I know what you're thinking, it's called Legilimency and since you don't have any mental shields your thoughts are blazing at me like a lit-up billboard and I can't block them out properly - Occlumency - because I haven't had enough practice just yet, especially because I haven't practiced while doing things like this."

Harry sighed, then, "Plus, I'm doing other spells and you can't do two at once, only one after another, and I'd have to raise the shields before I started doing something else, but this was far more important than blocking your mind out of my own."

Buffy immediately froze and could feel herself paling. "You can...read my mind?"

Harry sighed, "Something like that, yeah, but I swear I'm not digging around in it or anything. It's just your thoughts about harming my person are rather loud, so to speak, so they're blaring at me, like I said. At this point, Seanathair Liam has iron-clad shields in addition to being a vampire - their thoughts don't have reflection just like their bodies don't, I found out - so I couldn't even if he was human because he's had so long at it, it's practically first-nature.

"I found out that when he was being taught our type of magic, Occlumency and Legilimency were mandated courses because of all the tension between the magical and non-magical factions and the different types of magic employed even by those our world would call 'Muggles'. Werewolves like my friend Remus had some natural protection, as well, though I never knew it until recently. All magical creatures, both Light and Dark, do to varying extents, but let's get this Body-Bind off my grandfather, shall we, and then we can continue our little chat."

"What did you do to the room just now?"

Harry sighed again, but didn't lower his wand again, "I Impeturbed it. You'll see why in a moment. Yes, that's kind of like making a rubber barrier around the edge of it so things can't get through to somewhere else, particularly sound. Extendable Ears can penetrate an Impeturbed room, at least somewhat, I don't know how or if Fred and George - "

This time Harry was the one who paused and blessed himself - something Buffy immediately noticed made Angel's eyes widen before they glossed over with tears again - before discontinuing his speech and finally raising his wand and moving it in a slow, steady circle around the room, paying particular attention to the atrium in front of them and the doors behind them and on the sides of the huge room they were in, which Buffy guessed had been a living room once.

Harry at last pointed his wand at Angel and very clearly said, "Finite Incantatem!" and Angel sprang up, immediately dashing past them both to pull and shove violently at the doors, beginning to claw at them when Harry's shields held. Buffy, afraid he was going to bloody himself up even worse, quickly ran forward and used her own strength to wrestle Angel away from the door and downward onto the floor. Angel was actually no worse for already torn wear and the floor, itself, seemed oddly cushioned when they landed.

Angel began thrashing again, but Buffy grabbed his wrists and held him firmly but gently as she could. "Angel, I'm not going to let your hurt yourself again and neither is Harry, no matter how irritating he may be."

"Right there with you, Slayer," Harry rejoined, squatting down next to her and slowly moving his wand over Angel's body, whispering something she couldn't make out. The blood all over Angel's face, hands, and clothes - to Buffy's immense shock, now - was slowly siphoned into Harry's wand, leaving him practically pristine except for the fact that his bones were still very obviously broken. "Also, since we've both been branded Chosen Ones, I won't call you 'Slayer' again. Just Buffy. Please just call me 'Harry', I'd really rather be friends than having you calling me 'Potter' like all my enemies have tended to."

Buffy spared Harry a quick glance, but nodded, if at Angel's still struggling form. "Deal. Nobody ever calls me 'Summmers' without 'Miss' in front of it, I couldn't even imagine that."

Harry chuckled darkly, "Well, to phrase it as I heard someone say something similarly tonight at that pub - "

"The Bronze and it's a club," Buffy corrected and Harry rolled his eyes.

"The Bronze, then, Jesus! Which is still a public house! Nitpicking - now, really? Anyway, to phrase it somewhat like that - that's just how we do."

Buffy was suddenly so amused she almost slackened her hold on Angel and glared at Harry while allowing herself a giggle. "So what are we going to do, Harry?"

"First we have to try to wait for Seanathair Liam to calm down because I don't have any draughts on me and don't even know if they'd work on him anyway since his - and yours, for that matter - metabolism is so much faster than most. Then I'm going to try to talk to him again. This is important and I refuse to lose any more family because he can't tell the difference between his multiple personalities."

Buffy went very quiet, staring into Angel's eyes even when he closed them, further tears falling, "That's kind of what Angel said when he told me about his curse. He said the demon gets your body, but it doesn't get your soul. He said that's gone."

Harry watched his ancestor, his wand trained ceaslessly upon the body beneath Buffy's own crouched form, "Yeah, but for some reason, he doesn't think that rule applies to him. Maybe it's to do with being the only vampire to ever be given back their soul, albeit through the most underhanded, vengeful, completely lacking in scruples way possible. Honestly, setting him on fire would have been better, but I suppose they thought a quick death would have been doing him a favor and God knows the Kalderash didn't want to do that."

"Kalderash?"

Harry blew out a faint breath of laughter, "You know, Seanathair, for a bloke who likes a girl, you've told her next to nothing about yourself."

"Tell me about it," Buffy grumbled, resisting the urge to glare at Angel, but saving it for later when everything wasn't so dire.

Harry took a deep breath and continued, "The Kalderash were the Romany tribe who cursed Angelus and restored Seanathair's soul to his body to reside alongside the demon. They were mostly massacred not long afterward by the remainder of the Scourge of Europe. They had no right to do what they did, but the point is that I read about Angel in my mate Hermione's History of Magic notes - a bloody textbook in and of themselves - and there was further information in the stacks at the National University of Ireland, Galway, as well as Trinity College when I took a day trip there once.

"Our family tree - or the beginnings of it - was written in a Bible I found in what I can only assume was once Seanathair Liam's house. It had been hidden and I pulled it out of the floor while cleaning away calcified blood."

Angel began to thrash again, but Buffy held his wrists fast. "You went to Angel's old house?" she asked, however, her voice small.

Harry nodded solemnly, "I slept there for a while, actually. It was my favorite after we got everything cleaned up. Mór-Seanathair Connor - that's 'great-grandfather', though that name would fit Seanathair, as well - and Col ceathrar Katherine - that's 'cousin', because she felt like one after we talked so much - gave Luna - my much closer cousin, only once removed, and a very good friend of mine - and I a tour of everything once we'd restored it. They said that since we were family, it was our house, too, and we should know about it and the village as a whole.

"When I showed Mór-Seanathair the Bible, he pointed out his handwriting where he'd written down about Seanathair being born in the summer of 1727. His birthday's not far from mine, we were both born in summer -- only his, it's in August, on the sixteenth, not the 31 July like mine."

Buffy carefully took Angel's wrists both in one of her hands and used the tail of her shirt to wipe the tears from his face. "I'm proud to find these things out, Angel, I wish you were proud to tell me."

"I'm - Liam's dead!" Angel roared, his voice choked with tears and more came to both Buffy and Harry's eyes, as well. "They're all dead an' it's my fault!"

"It was the demon," Harry said firmly and Buffy leaned in Angel's face, "Angel, do you want to hurt either Harry or I right now?"

Buffy swept her hair back away from her neck, to Harry's surprise, and he was about to ask her what the hell she thought she was doing when Angel finally wriggled out of her grasp and bolted for the interior of the mansion after realizing he couldn't get out of it altogether.

Buffy started to go after Angel, but Harry stayed her hand. "Not to waste any more of your madwoman urges, but I can find him much faster now that I have his DNA to follow and, besides, it really is getting late. Your mum will probably be waiting for you by now. It's after one. I don't have that problem, you do."

Buffy's eyes widened in dismay and fear for Angel, but she was forced to do as Harry suggested because he was perfectly right and her mom would be sitting on her bed, just waiting to have another talk with her about breaking curfew and getting into all kinds of trouble with the wrong kinds of people.

She knew she wouldn't have to defend Xander or Willow like it had been with Pike, but she'd have to try to explain who she was with tonight and that was going to be difficult since her mother thought Angel was a history major tutoring her and had no more idea about Harry than Buffy, herself, had a few hours ago.

Her heart torn, Buffy finally nodded and Harry flicked his wand at the door, allowing it to fly back open. Glancing back and swiping her face, Buffy then took off into the night. At least here, she knew Angel would likely be safe from himself. Harry could do that Impetuous thing again and make the walls and floor all soft...

With that only vaguely comforting thought, Buffy ran as fast as she could home and - for a change of pace - decided to sneak right in through the front door just to give herself some time to calm down.

Faintly, she could hear a little girl with medium brown hair, a mix between her mom and dad's, familiar voice saying, "Ooh, Buffy, you're gonna get it when Mom - " a yawn " - finds you snuck out again." Her voice was sleepy and she was wearing Buffy's Yummy Sushi pajama shirt, which far outsized her.

Her own voice snapping, "WhenI snuck out? You shouldn't be in my room, Dawn, you should be at Angel's where it's safe, and why do you have Mr. Gordo again?"

"You forgot him and - "

"You came all the way back to the house to get my piggy even though Glory's after you? Are you kidding me? Mom's got enough to worry about as it is, since you so kindly pointed that out, just like the rest of us - why don't you put yourself on a platter and say 'here I am' as loudly as you can! If anyone's in trouble, it's you!"


"What?" Buffy asked faintly, giving her head a rub, and sinking back to the wall. Even months later, she was still having strange aftereffects from the crap the asylum had pumped her full of while trying to control her. Sometimes, like now, she thought she had a little sister when she knew perfectly well she was an only child like Harry, Willow, and Xander all were and - most importantly - Mom knew nothing about the slayage.
H-E-Double Hockeysticks, no.

But now wasn't the time for that. Now was time for more Purgatory.

...They hide it, they hide it, they're never gonna find it...

Harry snuck quietly through the mansion, the Cloak of Invisibility thrown back around him, as he searched for Angel in the depths of this enormous house, only to hear his voice echo through the walls as Voldemort's had done, but nothing so malevolent. Harry could hear the fear in Angel's tone as clear as day now that he knew what it sounded like. Angel was trying desperately to keep himself hidden by projecting his voice so that he seemed to be everywhere.

WHAT IS THIS, HIDE AND SEEK AND YOU'RE IT?

Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes and merely yelled back, knowing Angel would hear him even if he didn't see him. "You're the one literally running scared, Grandfather! But unfair of you to say that, don't you think? I'm not leaving, if that's what you think is going to happen!"

"I'll kill you, don't you and Buffy see that!"

"If that was the case, neither of us would have made it five minutes with you. Well, no, that's not accurate. I have magic. I could put you in another Body-Bind and just toss you out in the sunlight like the Kalderash should have like any sane vengeful people would!"

"I drove them insane, isn't that obvious? I did the same to my people, the same to Drusilla, Darla and I! You have no idea what we did to her, what I did to her!"

"Our people! So the solution was to drive you far more around the bend than they would ever have the chance to be? Some solution! God doesn't like it when people try to play his part of the story, Angel, don't you know that? Darla, Dru, and Spike all devoured them and God and the Powers sat right back and let it happen - because you, Liam, were innocent of Angelus' crimes and it was not an eye for an eye! You want me to kill you, Angel, is that it? Because I can think of a certain Slayer who'd have my guts for garters should I so much as try to do so!"

"Both of you are just - "

"If the word 'kids' is about to come out of your mouth, I wouldn't talk! Even at twenty-six, you were no more a man than you think I am, which is far more, if your behavior at the time was anything to go by. You knew nothing of love, why do you think Angelus is so obsessed with it? With passion? He has no idea what those two emotions feel like! Voldemort, instead, was repulsed by what he couldn't understand, but all Angelus wanted...was to feel...hated that he tried so hard to do so...and couldn't!"

"You think you - "

"I DO KNOW YOU, LIAM! I know you better than you'll know me unless you stop hiding from who you really are! A boy from Ireland who just got caught up, the wrong time, wrong place - you never wanted to hurt anyone! You only wanted to see the world outside the walls you lived within! You felt it a prison, you think I don't know what that's like?

"Every year Dumbledore stuck me back with the Dursleys on Privet fucking Close, had people tailing me and never bothered to tell me what was going on! Ickle Harrykins had to be kept in the dark for his own good -- good of Dumbledore's plan, really! But I got past that and forgave and so can you, you can forgive your father and you can forgive yourself!"

Angel's sob was muffled now and Harry raised his wand once more, turning the corner he came to and sending a thick line of bluebell flames hurtling across the room, only to hit the opposite wall and spread harmlessly, though Angel, now transfixed by the sight, slowly backed away from them.

"Walk back toward the Light, Liam," Harry said softly, knowing Angel heard him. "It's waiting for you."

God doesn't want you, but I still do!

I won't be made a fool, Angelus. Not by you, not by anyone.


Angel gave his head a shake, the visions tripping over themselves as they did when he was as upset as he was. He didn't know what was coming or going, only that it was Darla's voice. For all he knew, it was his own thoughts having taken on her voice. For days and nights after his soul was returned, all he saw was the past, all he heard were screams and moans, his father's voice telling him all along what a waste of a son he'd been...

"God doesn't want me," Angel murmured, curling in upon himself, but Harry had been edging forward and was bent over him again, the wand behind his back extinguishing the bluebell flames that were dancing in a seemingly dangerous fashion all along the wall now behind them both.

"Yes, God does."

"I've tried, God doesn't want me."

"You weren't ready to come back to the fold yet. You were using Him as the rod in your hand to punish yourself and that's not what He ever wanted, not for you, not for any of us."

"No," Angel shook his head and Harry sighed, "Where's your wand?"

"What?"

Harry closed his eyes momentarily before trying again, "Where's your wand, Angel?"

"Snapped on the Barbary Coast during World War I, anyway, what does it matter?" Angel vamped out now, baring his fangs at Harry, who - again - didn't so much as flinch.

"I'll write to Luna and ask her to talk with Ollivander - have him do her a favor and make one for you. He always said the wand chooses the wizard. Did you ever do magic as a vampire?"

Angel was staring fully at Harry now, "Are you completely mad?"

Harry forced himself not to react other than to calmly say, "No. And I'll take that as a no, as well. Though I suppose it counts in your favor that vampires seem to be immune to most curses and hexes, since they tend to need life to feed off of and/or blood to function and a vampire's blood is never his or her own. But I'll need something from your souled self for the wand. Can't have the demon trying to use it should the worst happen somehow and Angelus ever makes a return."

Then, without waiting or asking, Harry flicked his wand, conjuring his Thestral patronus, which Angel stared ceaselessly at as it walked nearer and nearer to him before engulfing him and washing through to his other side, now a grayish sort of color, rather than the silvery black swish it usually was.

Harry called it back to him and touched its nose, allowing it to absorb pieces of what memories he'd received in Galway before pointing his wand again, this time at Angel's already cross-burned chest with a mild flame, burning some of the older man's flesh to ash, causing Angel to flinch away and curl into himself again, hissing up at Harry, but Harry used his wand to force Angel's back to straighten, all the while apologizing, so he could collect the ashes that the wound had become in one of Snape's vials that he now carried with him at all times, along with a Shrunken copy of one of the Potions texts and Betelguese's equally Shrunken terrarium.

Angel stared up at Harry, heaving in utter shock as Harry capped off the ashes and Vanished them somewhere. The Thestral Patronus followed but moments later and Harry sank to the floor, breathing slowly as he stared at Angel from where they both now sat.

"Why are you - "

"I answered that already. You're my family. Aside from Dudley, the only blood family I have left with roots in the non-magical world. Luna only knows vaguely about non-magical people - she had some exposure from her mum, who was a half-blood, when she was really young - though she's learning from Hermione and Dudley. Neville, too, actually. They said they want to visit when they become proficient enough in Muggledom, Luna's words, not mine."

Angel frowned in frustration, a rebuttal on his lips, but Harry quietly cut him off.

"I've never had any true blood family, A-Angel. Ron and Ginny Weasley never told me that they were more or less my cousins removed by some such. My -- my parents are dead. The man who may have been my father had he not mucked up so badly is dead.

"My aunt and cousin...well, I should probably include my uncle, but since he's not related to you, he really has no place in this...anyway, as far as I know, my aunt still despises me even if Dudley doesn't, but I don't want to go back to England ever again - maybe not even Europe. Too many bad memories there.

"Everyone in the wizarding world is related somehow, as you know...and even if they weren't, I'm the heir of not only the Potters, but the Blacks. And then there's you.

"You're a whole other kettle of fish because as far as anyone knows, you and Kathy were the only wizard and witch in my mother and aunt's lineage until my mum went off to Hogwarts. That's over two hundred years of...well, Squibs, to be bitterly concise. Our family and your neighbors, they gave me memories of you, but only Kathy and Mór-Seanathair were willing to talk to me at any real length about you."

Harry watched as Angel flinched sharply again, an involuntary hitch coming to his unbreath as he understood exactly why. "All the more reason for you to stay away from me, kid."

"I'm not a damned kid," Harry snapped, sitting up and pointing his wand at Angel's heart before scrambling to his feet, his wand hand however steady all the while. "If you want to get technical, Angel, I'm the Boy Who Lived, the Man Who Destroyed The Dark Lord, and I could kill you, too. I've killed just as you have. It may have been necessary, but my hands are still stained with blood. Innocent blood, even.

"I almost killed Draco Malfoy by accident in my sixth year. If I hadn't taken Cedric Diggory with me to get the Triwizarding Cup in my fourth year, he'd still be alive. I was forced to weaken my mentor to the point of near death and then watch helplessly as he was killed in an act of mercy by a man I now know to be a hero and, in another time and universe, could have been my father.

"I remember his words even now, though I wasn't meant to hear them, ‘Did it never occur to you, Dumbledore, that I don't want to do this anymore?’ Still, he kept his promises. Because he loved my mother, your greats-granddaughter, Lily Evans-Potter, more than anyone or anything else. Before I came here, my mates and I buried him next to her."

Angel was staring unabashedly at him now, but Harry ignored that and scowled, "Not to mention, in my fifth year, I needlessly got my godfather killed because I was too foolhardy to listen to reason and realize the depths of deception around me for that very purpose. So kindly spare me this 'too dangerous' shite. I finally have something to grasp onto and because you're afraid of getting attached to anyone again, you won't try. Some family." Harry didn't turn away, though. He merely stared.

Angel stared back at Harry, warring emotions within him. Whistler had told him to protect Buffy, that he would do, but why didn't he warn him at all about...about Harry?

"I killed mine," he said softly, a faint sting coming to the backs of his eyes. Harry fought the urge to snort, as that would be unforgivable.

"I'd heard. I also heard that your father - from his own lips - was rather like my uncle. Legend has it he was a right bastard to you and never expected you to so much as -- well, anything. Well, to be honest, Angel, he got what he expected. He knows that now, has known it from the moment you were found dead, he said. He's hated himself for centuries for your sake.”

At Angel’s near-outburst, Harry continued loudly, “He treated you like rubbish, so rubbish you became, wasn't it? But you showed him, didn't you?"

Angel snarled, his game face rippling back to the surface, "What the hell are you trying to prove, Potter?"

Harry didn't move, merely frowned at Angel's reversion to his surname, but otherwise didn't so much as react. After Voldemort, a vampire's alternate face was next to nothing.

"That even now you're too afraid to take any chances because you're so convinced of your own...Merlin, is it hereditary? You sound like I did when Hagrid first told me I was a wizard. I remember telling him, 'But I'm just Harry. Just Harry.' Just Harry who was kept in a cupboard under the stairs and had never had so much as a stitch of new clothing until Mrs. Weasley -- and that was among my first-ever Christmas presents -- sent me a jumper like she did every year.

"Just Harry who was hunted at school and was more trouble than he was worth and never worth anything in the first -- "

Before Harry knew it, Angel was on his feet and Harry hadn't yet finished talking, but Angel had stalked up to him and wrapped him in his arms, gripping Harry in as gentle yet fierce a hug as he could manage.

"Shush, now," Angel quieted, finally slipping back into his human face. "You're none of those things."

Harry murmured something in Irish and Angel froze, his brow furrowing as he felt something warm wash over him and envelop him.

Angel stepped back and couldn't decide whether to be angry or simply intrigued. "You weren't faking anything, but that was a trick. You just..."

"Sealed us as family," Harry said sheepishly, running his hand over his already even more mussed hair. "See you get away from me now, Seanathair."

"I'm not anyone's -- "

Harry forced himself not to roll his eyes, "Yes, you are. She was from the Muggle section of the village -- kind of like Godric's Hollow has a wizarding and Muggle section for everything.

"You never bothered going there and the darkness of what your demon did kept Muggles far and safely away. There's still a Muggle population in Galway, you know. I was just there, after all. You only wiped out the wizarding population. I was one of the first wizards to set foot in Galway in over two hundred years."

"My father wasn't a wizard," Angel objected, but Harry shrugged. "But he loved your mother, didn't he?"

Angel frowned, "You have your centuries mixed up and anyway, she was my stepmother. My mother died when I was three."

Harry blinked, heart-deep sadness instantly enveloping him. "Sorry."

But Angel only shook his head. "What fault is it of yours?"

"I feel at fault for a lot of things. My mate Hermione tells me it's a product of always being blamed for everything that went wrong in the Dursleys' house. It was always my fault, whatever it was. Even if it was Dudley's fault, I probably goaded him into it with my unnaturalness."

Harry froze slightly before forcing himself to relax as he heard a growl echo throughout the room from Angel, who looked the very picture ofthe monster everyone had talked about. And Binns...

Harry perked up slightly, remembering just then, "You're covered in both History of Magic and Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts. One of the most famous vampires to ever exist."

This time, it was Angel who stopped moving. A scowl crossed his countenance, "I'm not worth anyone's study," he snarled, turning and stalking back away before Harry followed, turning Angel around, and punching him in the face, his wand promptly following as Angel stared at him in shock, his now-broken nose dripping onto his once white t-shirt.

"Didn't you just tell me I was none of the things the Dursleys always said? So why are we letting your father's former opinion of you -- or those Watchers who never do anything but sit back and watch, just like the Ministry, as everything goes to Hell around them -- why are we entertaining their ideas?"

Angel scoffed, however, "You don't understand, you're just a -- "

"Sectumsempra," Harry hissed, this time meaning it as he watched a long swath of flesh cut open in Angel's chest and what blood he'd consumed begin to leak out. Angel looked at him in further shock. "Don't. Call. Me. A. Child. Again. Episky."

Angel felt his nose snap back into place and then Harry whispered, "Vulnera Sanentur" and Angel's torso slowly closed as Harry whispered the spell over and over.

"I'm sorry I lost control of my temper like that. You...you called me a child and while I could stake you, that'd be counter-intuitive to everything I'm trying to accomplish and, besides..."

Harry gazed mournfully at the spurt of blood that now lanced across the floor. "I had to show you. Somewhere in there is my blood."

Angel gasped for breath that would never come and then forced himself not to say that all Harry had spilled was animal blood. The cheeky little brat had gotten his point across. "You're definitely...too ruthless to be a child. I won't call you that again."

Harry nodded, his face blank, but his eyes haunted as he stared at the blood on the floor. Then Angel surprised him by again producing Harry's own wand that he'd gotten off him somehow and nonverbally Scourgifying the jet of blood that, ironically enough, had ended just near Harry's feet. He exhaled heavily before handing Harry's wand back to him.

"You plan to enroll at the school, you said?"

Harry fought the urge to run his hand through his hair again and simply nodded, still staring at the now-spotless floor. "Nobody knows me there," he whispered.

Angel could understand the allure.

...All of these weird creatures who lock up their spirits...Drill holes in themselves and live for their secrets...

Six years earlier...

Daniel Osbourne stared at the parchment envelope in his hands, turning it from end to end and side to side. He picked up the rest of the mail from inside the covered porch screen door and back through the front door into the kitchen, where he sat down at the breakfast table in the nook, across from Aunt Maureen and the baby, who she was feeding something that looked and smelled suspiciously like meat, but Daniel didn't question it. It was hard enough for him to speak very much at all for the past year since he'd found out what had happened to his parents when he was nine, just before his birthday. He certainly didn't feel like inquiring about something that was a regular sight anyway.

Uncle Ken had decided that past March that Daniel was finally old enough to learn the fates of his mother and father, who'd been murdered during a violent incident in England when he was only two years old.

It had followed a very large war between two major factions of magical people and his parents had been here in America at first but, at his father's behest - he'd been a Prewett by birth, it had turned out - he couldn't sit idly by and simply let non-magical and those without magic born to magical families be slaughtered by those who'd gotten away from the magical authorities (Uncle Ken and Aunt Maureen had shared restrained dirty looks at the mention of these authorities) without the Ministry of Magic in London so much as lifting a finger.

That was how Uncle Ken had seen it anyhow, as he described how Daniel's parents had both been accountants - had met in college at Oxford and gotten married just after having him and making Aunt Maureen and himself Daniel's godparents, leaving him in their care.

That had been before going off to make sure those unable to fight against the darkness around them had a way to safety here in various parts of America, with the help of the Salem Witches' Institute and...The Northern Rocky Mountains' School of Magic, an invitation to which Daniel now held loosely in his palms.

"I don't want to go," he said calmly. "I don't want to learn magic. I'm not a Prewett and, anyway, magic killed my parents. I want to stay in California where they should have...where they wouldn't have..."

Daniel wiped his face on his arm before crushing the letter in his fists and dumping it into the trash can and leaving the kitchen and going up to his room in the attic to practice more of the 'adult' guitar Uncle Ken had bought him for his eleventh birthday.

He'd stay here in Sunnydale with what family he had left, thank you. He didn't need any of these Prewetts who hadn't cared about his father or his mother or him. He was an Osbourne anyway.

...TBC...
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